It was 2012 and my phone rang. It was our neighbor letting us know that our garage door was still open. Being late at night he knew we must have left it open, and was being neighborly and looking out for us. They were a sweet family, always so polite when we saw them. We would talk about the weather, our yards and their kids. As I would leave the husband would always say, tell your brother we said hello. I always just smiled and in my head would think, “I’ll tell him later tonight when I’m sleeping with him.”
It wasn’t just our neighbors that thought we were brothers, it was a common occurrence while living in the south. Whether a neighbor, waiter or fellow passenger on a plane I never corrected them. At times I felt courageous and would say “partner” but all too often I quietly smiled and disregarded my relationship that I was so proud to have.
So returning to Jacksonville this fall I knew the time would come. Being away for four years and living in New England and California people asked all the time about our relationship, and over time I became more confident in saying “husband.” At first it was our neighbors in Massachusetts, then to our regular waiter in Los Angeles and eventually I even found myself correcting passengers sitting by me on a plane – when they would ask about my wife, I would proudly correct them and say husband. Now though, I was back in the south. Would that confidence fade?
I figured it would be at a party a few weeks in, or out at a restaurant a few months after our move. But it happened on day one. Yes, day one. We were outside our storage unit when an older woman pulled up in her SUV. She asked me if I would help her unload an old trunk from her unit. Without any hesitation, I must have forgotten I was out of L.A. and I said:
Me: “Let me grab my husband to help us.”
Her: “Your what?”
Me: “My husband. He’s right over there.”
Her: Looking puzzled and pointing at him, “Your….what?”
Me: “My husband ma’am, we’d be more than happy to help you.”
She continued to look puzzled while we helped her. As we lifted the trunk into the car and closed the hatch, we noticed the “Take Back America” bumper sticker on her car. She tried to give us a tip but we declined. We said we don’t want a tip, but asked her to do a good deed for someone else down the line. She then asked about the little boy she saw us with earlier. We told her about our son and she asked when we got married. We told her our story and then we politely said we had to go. As we drove off she smiled, still looking slightly puzzled, and waved. All we could think was, we may have been the first gay couple, actually gay dads, she had ever met in her life.
We may not have changed her life that day but we did expose her to our life and our family. My beautiful family – me, our son and my husband.
Tags: Growing Up Hayden, Hayden's List, LGBT friendly, two dads